There is an old saying that amateurs talk about strategy, professionals about logistics. Perhaps this should be amended now to amateurs talk about promoting democracy, professionals about debt. The Economist reports that the “[American] government’s unfunded obligations to give the elderly pensions and health care are equivalent to a debt of $483,000 for every household.” Current borrowing to deal with the financial crisis has added significantly to the problem. Things need to be brought back into balance, without killing the recovery and ultimately making the problem worse. Spending should be cut, rather than taxes increased; the retirement age needs to rise; the tax base should broaden and distorting loopholes decrease. (The Economist suggests changing (removing?) the mortgage interest deduction.) The Obama administration is not doing any of this. In some cases, it is doing the opposite. Meanwhile the Chinese and Malaysian’s have talked about carrying on trade in something other than dollars. China’s economy is still growing.
In the nineteenth-century, at the height of its power, Great Britain took the lead in suppressing the slave trade. Several decades later, in decline and faced with the rise of Germany, the British did not feel they could come to the aid of the Armenians. The Obama administration has been less assertive about democracy than some would like and friendlier to Muslims than others would like, while the Secretary of the Treasury has been reassuring the Chinese that we are not deadbeats. The administration’s domestic and foreign policies appear to aligned. An alternative to retreat abroad in the face of decline at home (intended or not) is to “punch above one’s weight” by aligning with the dominant power, as Britain did. Zbigniew Brzezinski has suggested that the US and China form a “G2” to sort out the world’s financial and other issues.
I imagine that Brzezinski's ultimate solution for the G2 would be for the United States to adopt the Chinease political system. Much more streamlined and efficient. The US government is a dead man walking either it will cede authority to the international banks, i mean global government; or the people will refuse this outcome and overthrow it. They can't get out of this whole by digging farther, although mabye we should add some sort of zinger or pun about digging far enough and we will end up in China.
China is not the "dominant power", the US is. And following the US is the EU and Japan. Mind you, the US political class does seem anxious to make China the worlds dominant power.